Walk Sixth Avenue between 14th and 34th Street and you may notice something different about the older buildings that line the street. As often as not, their second stories are not just blank brick face, not apartments, but what seem to be elevated storefronts. That's because they were indeed built as storefronts. Until 1938, this avenue was dominated by the Sixth Avenue Elevated train. The train thundered right by the second level of every building, making that story very valuable real estate. Every straphanger couldn't help but notice the stores that passed by the train windows.
Today some of these spaces are still in use as shops. Others are not. The overall visual effect, however, is, to me, very attractive, in an utterly prewar way.